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Canadian flights scheduled to resume after Hurricane Patricia weakens

Hurricane Patricia approaches Mexico (source: Wikimedia Commons).

Hours after hurricane Patricia came ashore, Canadians living on Mexico's west coast spent Saturday enjoying the sunshine and counting themselves lucky.

Forecasts had predicted the resort community of Puerto Vallarta would be hit by gale-force winds and torrential downpours, but the Category 5 storm dissipated after making landfall Friday night in a relatively low-populated stretch of the Jalisco state coast near Cuixmala.

Ontario native Arthur Fumerton put duct tape on the windows of his Puerto Vallarta home and hunkered down to ride out what was supposed to be the worst hurricane ever recorded in the western world.

Fumerton, the director of a before and after school program called the Volcanes Community Education Project, said schools were closed Friday, and several buildings and hotels downtown were evacuated.

By 2 or 3 p.m., there were few people left on the roads and everyone seemed to be bracing for the storm that never came.

"We got a little rain, no wind. And it's a beautiful, sunny day today. Everything's normal," Fumerton said Saturday. "We're lucky. Very lucky."

Preparing for the hurricane was a community endeavour, said April Miton, a former resident of Chilliwack, B.C.

"This community, all of Puerto Vallarta, everybody leapt up to the challenge to make sure that when this recorded worst hurricane ever was coming, everybody took care of everybody, made sure everyone was going to be safe," said Miton, who runs Casa Leta Suites about 25 minutes north of downtown Puerto Vallarta.

People helped one another board up windows and store food and water. Miton and her husband Bill took in a family who had been moved from their condo downtown.

The Mitons have had several hurricane warnings since moving to Mexico in 2006, but this one was different.

"We've always taken precautions but never to the extent that we felt we needed to this time," April Miton said.

The couple recently completed renovations on their home, and there was worry that the storm would ruin the work.

"One of our main sources of panic had been that our brand new solar panels were going to go flying off to who knows where. We thought they were going to end up in Texas," Miton said. "But thankfully that didn't happen."

In the end, the Mitons and their guests rode out the storm playing dominos on the back patio. A ceiling fan whirred overhead because there wasn't a lick of wind.

"Yet again, we dodged a major bullet. We are, once again, very thankful," Miton said.

The impending storm closed Puerto Vallarta's airport, forcing WestJet to cancel one flight on Friday and five on Saturday and scuttling travel plans for Canadians hoping to escape to the popular tourist destination.

Spokesman Robert Palmer says the airline will operate six flights to Puerto Vallarta on Sunday and 700 passengers have been placed on those flights.

Air Canada spokesman Peter Fitzpatrick says the airline didn't have to cancel any flights because of hurricane Patricia. A Sunday Air Canada flight from Toronto to the Mexican vacation destination will go ahead as scheduled.

Gemma Karstens-Smith, The Canadian Press

Story updated at 23:26 ET

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